Their last time out, the Ohio University Bobcats gave Akron their first loss of the MAC season, while the Central Michigan Chippewas came back and won a thriller against Western Michigan. This game pits two of the better guards in the conference against one another, and should be an instant classic.
When: Feb. 7th, 7PM
Where: Convocation Center, Athens, Ohio
Watch: ESPN 3
Stream: WatchESPN app
Listen: Stream via the IMG Sports Network at Ohiobobcats.com or cmuchippewas.com, depending on which radio crew you want to listen to.
Line: Ohio -8.5
Scouting the Chippewas
The Chippewas come into the game winners of 4 of their last 5. That puts them at 5-5 in the MAC, good enough for a tie for second place in the West. They are 15-8 overall.
They are led by arguably the most exciting back court duo in college, Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson. The two combine for 50.5 points per contest. Not bad considering they are both only 5’9. They have combined for 1070 field goal attempts on the season.
The rest of the team has combined for 665. This actually helps the Chippewas a bit, because teams never know who the other scorer is going to be. There are 5 guys capable of adding 10 or 20 points each. They also might not get any. It’s hard to pin down where to put the rest of your defensive focus.
Statistically, CMU is the best offense and the worst defense in the MAC. I don’t think that is going to change the rest of the season.
Scouting the Bobcats
Early in the year, the Bobcats were one of the preseason favorites to win the MAC. Returning MAC player of the year, Antonio Campbell, had a great surrounding cast. Since Campbell was lost on the year with a foot injury, it’s now up to that surrounding cast.
Two players have really stood out in his absence. Jason Carter, a freshman from Johnstown, has gotten the majority of the minutes since his departure. Including the game where Campbell went down, Carter has averaged 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Jaaron Simmons was already in the top 5 in the country in assists. In the last 6 games, he is averaging 23 points per contest. In the 15 prior, he was averaging 11.3.
Ohio is 8th in the MAC, scoring a respectable 77.1 points per game. They are .5 points per game from overtaking the Huskies as the best defense in the MAC.
Players to Watch
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan: The guy is just flat fun to watch. He will take the shot anywhere on the court, at any time, for any reason. And they go in quite a bit.
He is knocking down 38% of his shots from beyond the arc, so the math says shoot as many as you can.
David DiLeo, Central Michigan: How the freshman forward plays is a good indicator of how the Chips are going to do. In the 12 games that he has scored in double figures, they have won 9 and lost 3. He is just below 10 points per game on the season.
Jaaron Simmons, Ohio: Simmons was always a great facilitator. Now out of necessity, he has become a great scorer.
He is currently ranked 5th division one with 6.9 assists per game.
Kenny Kaminski, Ohio: Kaminski is one of the more streaky scorers I have ever seen. His season high is 27 and his season low is 3. Those are not statistical anomalies. He has 3 games 5 or below, and three games over 20.
Keys to the Game
This should be a fast paced game, with a lot of scoring. I expect CMU to push the action and go on runs. The Bobcats will counter and try and impose their will on defense, while going on runs of their own. A 10 point lead isn’t going to be safe in this game until the final whistle.
I believe it’s going to come down to either which super star has a career type night, or which streaky “other” scorer lights it up.
In a game like this, I am usually going to go with the home team. That’s ratcheted up when the atmosphere is as electric as it is in the Convocation Center. The Bobcats are giving away free Chick-fil-A to students, so it should be extra electric. I am picking the Bobcats, 95-90.